Catoctin Creek Cocktail Challenge Winners Announced

After inviting Chilled 100 bartenders from four key markets across the United States to enter the Catoctin Creek Cocktail Challenge, Purcellville, Virginia-based Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. recently unveiled its winners.

Following a very close competition, four skillfully crafted cocktails—one from each market—were chosen, with each bartender earning an all-expense paid trip to meet Becky and Scott Harris and tour their distillery.

The four runners up take home a complimentary bottle of Catoctin Creek Ragnarök Rye.

Explore the winning cocktails below.


1st Place: Jorge Ortega

Winters End

Winters End


  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz pink peppercorn and anise syrup*  
  • 1/2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz spiced pear liquor
  • Egg white

Preparation: Dry shake all ingredients, add ice, and shake again, strain into a coupe glass. Incorporate all ingredients in a tin and dry shake vigorously. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a coup glass, achieving a nice froth. Garnish with two torched star anise. 

*Pink Peppercorn and Anise Syrup: 

Simmer 1 part sugar, 1 part water with pink peppercorn, black pepper, and star anise. let sit for 24 hours and strain. 

Runner Up: Evren Bora

Rye-napple Express

Rye-Napple Express


  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz pineapple gomme syrup*
  • 1/2 Aperol
  • 1/2 oz Lairds Applejack 

Preparation: Mix ingredients into a shaker tin. Throw. Strain over crushed ice. Pineapple frond garnish. Top with .5oz Yellow Chartreuse. I served mine in a tiki mug, but a rocks glass will work. 

*Pineapple Gomme Syrup 


  • 6 oz gomme arabic powder
  • 6 oz water
  • Let sit overnight
  • 1 pineapple cut into chunks
  • 12 oz water
  • 36 oz sugar  

Preparation: Once sugar has dissolved break down pineapple using an immersion blender and bring to a boil. Strain pineapple syrup into gomme solution made the day before and mix. 


1st Place: Angela Wood

Old Dominion Lūʻau

Old Dominion Luau


  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
  • 1/2 oz turmeric syrup* 
  • 1/2 oz maple bacon syrup
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz fresh lemon sour 
  • 3 shakes of celery bitters
  • 2 chunks of chargrilled pineapple  

Preparation: Muddle charred grilled pineapple with 3 shakes of celery bitters. Build remaining ingredients in tin. Shake and strain over fresh ice into pint glass (BALL mason jar). Smoke cocktail for extra flavor and smell. (optional). Optional garnishes: Grilled pineapple, pineapple stem pieces, bacon straws or black pepper candied bacon slice, smoked maple brown sugar rim. 

*Turmeric syrup: 

  • 1/2 cups water 
  • 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder 

Preparation: Cook until sugar is melted, and turmeric is combined. Cool before using.

**Maple Bacon Syrup: 


  • 1/4 cups water  
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup 
  • 3 strips cooked bacon

Preparation: Fill up large pot with water about 3/4 to the top. Insert immersion circulator and set to 150 degrees F (65 C). Add water and maple syrup to saucepan, bring to a light boil, stirring frequently. Remove saucepan from heat. Cook bacon until crispy. Add bacon, water, and syrup to Ziploc bag. Seal bag and leave in immersion circulator for 90 minutes. Remove syrup and transfer to a small bottle. Add a splash of vodka to help preserve the syrup. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Runner Up: Matthew Cormier

Champe’s Attempt of Benedictine Arnold

Champe's Attempt of Benedict Arnold


  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
  • 1/2 oz spiced carrot syrup*
  • 1/4 oz Benedictine
  • 4 dashes black walnut bitters
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 spray absinthe 

Preparation: In a mixing glass combine all ingredients except absinthe and add ice. Stir approximately 10 rotations as to not over dilute cocktail. (Keep in mind it’s being served on crushed ice) strain cocktail into chilled coupe glass. Add crushed ice to create a dome in the cocktail. Spray 1 squeeze of absinthe from an atomizer. Garnish with an expressed orange twist and carrot greens. 

*Spiced carrot syrup 

Combine one cup Demerara sugar with one cup water in a pot. Bring to a boil. While bringing up to heat add 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 star anise, 1 tablespoon chopped ginger, 1/2 teaspoon high quality vanilla extract. Once boiling turn down heat and simmer until carrots are tender. Lightly mash carrots once tender. Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove all solids. 


1st Place: Megan Marshall

The Pioneer

The Pioneer


  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
  • 1/4 oz Elderflower liqueur
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz Honey-Peppercorn Syrup*
  • 3/4 oz Aquafaba
  • Rose water rinse
  • Cherry and cracked pepper for garnish 

Preparation: Add a small amount of rose water to the bottom of a coupe glass. Give it a rinse and discard any remaining liquid. Then, place a brandied cherry in the bottom of the glass and set it aside. Next, add all other ingredients (except the cracked pepper garnish) into a shaker tin. Shake without ice for a few seconds. Then, add ice and shake again. Fine strain the cocktail into the coupe, and garnish with a sprinkle of cracked pepper. Cheers! 

*Honey-Peppercorn Syrup: Combine one cup of honey, one cup of water, and 3 tablespoons of black peppercorns over medium-high heat. Stir until the honey fully combines with the water. Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat, and let it simmer for five minutes. Then, take it off the heat and let it cool completely. Strain into another container and discard the peppercorns. 

Runner Up: Nicole Salicetti

Purcell’s Pick

Purcell's Pick


  • 1 1/2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
  • 1/2 oz blackberry sweet vermouth*
  • 1/4 oz dill syrup
  • 1 dash salt solution**
  • 10 drops citric acid
  • 2 drops grapefruit bitters
  • Brioche toast with blackberry spread and dill (for garnish) 

Preparation: Add all ingredients except for garnish into stirring glass. Stir and strain over large rock in a rocks glass.
Spread a dollop of jam onto mini toast and top with dill. 

*Sweet Vermouth blackberry reduction: slow cooked 50g fresh whole blackberries with 75g of sweet vermouth and 25g of water on stove top in small saucepan for 30 minutes. Strain out blackberries and cool. Blackberry jam: use strained blackberries from vermouth reduction and mash with one teaspoon of sugar.

**Salt solution: 80ml water/20g salt 


1st Place: Elena Johnson

Fog Over Purcellville

Fog over Purcellville


  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
  • 1/2 oz Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
  • 1 oz Earl Grey syrup*
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice
  • 2 dashes orange bitters 
  • Whipped coconut milk top** 

Preparation: Shake all ingredients but whipped coconut milk with ice. Double strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Top with layer of whipped coconut milk and 2 dehydrated orange half-moons. 

*Earl Grey Tea Syrup: Combine 2 Earl Grey tea bags, 8 oz. sugar, and 8 oz. hot water just off the boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Remove tea bags after 5 minutes. Cool syrup and refrigerate.

**Whipped Coconut Milk: Combine a 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk with 2 oz. simple syrup in a whip cream canister. Charge canister twice, shake, and refrigerate. 

Runner Up: Dani Keenan

The Proof of Gold is in Fire

The Proof of Gold is in the Fire


  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 
  • 1/2 oz Ancho Reyes chile liqueur 
  • 1/2 oz Cherry goat cheese syrup*  
  • 1 oz blood orange juice 
  • 3 dashes smoked cinnamon bitters    

Preparation: Add all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled. Double strain into coupe glass decorated with edible gold leaf. Garnish with hollowed out red pepper filled with 151 proof rum and light on fire. 

*Cherry goat cheese syrup 


  • 1/2 cup Demerara sugar 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1/2 cup dark cherries 
  • 2 tablespoons Luxardo cherry juice 
  • 1 tablespoon creamy goat cheese

Preparation: Bring all ingredients except goat cheese to a boil to dissolve sugar and slightly thicken. Smash cherries to release juice. Remove from heat and stir in goat cheese. Strain. Cool before using.

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